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Suffragettes and suffragists didn’t miss the propaganda opportunity of creating Christmas-themed merchandise. This topical approach helped their campaign to maintain a higher profile in the public eye, as well as raising money for their cause.

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The Christmas card shown is by an unnamed artist from the Artists’ Suffrage League, a group of professional artists founded in 1907. They were organised by Mary Lowndes and produced posters, postcards, leaflets and banners, many of which are held in the Women’s Library archive collection.

The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was particularly adept at using merchandise for propaganda purposes. These suffragette entrepreneurs created a wide range of special or customised items – badges, brooches, scarves, ties, bags, soaps, packaged teas, tea sets, chocolate and jams – to be sold through its shops, both in London and across the UK.

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Votes for Women newspaper

The WSPU’s headquarters in 4 Clements Inn, set up in 1906, was the initial focal point for selling a wide range of novelties and products.

The WSPU produced its first Christmas card in 1907 and used its newspaper, ‘Votes for Women’, to advertise Christmas gifts (see the advert below for a WSPU’s stall from the ‘Votes for Women’ 10 December 1909 issue).DSCF4648-c

By 1910, the WSPU had developed this part of its campaign significantly and expanded into additional premises including a shop at 156 Charing Cross Road.

Gillian Murphy

About Gillian Murphy

Gillian Murphy is an Assistant Archivist in LSE Library.